You can help, even when feeling helpless

By: Marie Kriedman

It can be difficult when friends or family grieve a loss. Watching someone work through shock and crippling pain is even more difficult when you want to help. There are no concrete steps that will make it better, and it can feel helpless.

A friend of mine experienced a baby loss at 20 weeks. She and her husband were devastated and asked for space. They wanted to be alone, and I stepped back to give them all the time they needed. My husband and I worried and fretted and mourned their son. She reached out when she was ready, and we cried together when we saw each other for the first time. I thought giving her the time she asked for was the best thing to do. My own miscarriage made me question whether it was the right decision.

She supported me and my family for months (and years) after our loss, and she did it in the most perfect way possible. Every few days I would get a text. She asked for nothing but let me know that we were in her thoughts and that she understood our pain.

It was a quick check-in, and sometimes a virtual hug or meme to help us smile.

“Thinking of you”

“I am here for you, and we love you”

“Can I send you dinner?”

“How are you today?”

“I know it hurts but I promise you will survive this.”

“Do you need anything?”

Her words were simple and meaningful and helped carry us through our darkest days of missing our daughter. I realize now that she needed breathing room for her grief but not for her friends to vanish. I couldn’t imagine the pain she was feeling, but now I am an unexpected member of the club. My friend showed me how to do it better if I knew someone in a similar situation. She never complained about my missteps, and instead showered my family with love and kindness.

I tell her often that I like to think of Cooper and Olivia as fast friends, watching over us together, causing all kinds of mischief.  We still share our grief, but we also share our successes.  Today, we each have two children, and two of our kids are six months apart in age. We have a new bond that started with the nerve-wracking first days of kindergarten. We continue to support each other on our sad days, and also our lives of juggling work demands and parenting challenges.

It is possible to help when feeling helpless. It is possible to help, even if you can’t identify with the other person’s pain. A 5- or 10-minute text exchange or phone call can mean a world of difference. If you don’t know what to say, just reach out and let the other person know you are there. It is important because every bit of support is crucial and can help someone through a very challenging path.

About Marie Kriedman

Marie started her journalism career as a copy editor and paginator for a newspaper.  She eventually left the newspaper business and has continued as a freelance writer for more than 20 years.  She founded Write Away K and is a children’s book author. She published two books to honor her daughter, Saying Goodbye to Olivia and Olivia Had Trisomy 18. Marie and her husband are graciously permitted to live in a house with their cats. They are also parents to two children and one angel baby. Please visit to learn more.

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